In an overwelming vote, Britain's House of Commons has voted to allow the creation of animal/human hybrids and paved the way for tissue from the mentally ill and Alzheimer's patients to be used in the experiments.
The vote was 355 to 129.
The controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was only able to pass after sections that would liberalize access to abortion were set aside following a wave of protest. The new abortion laws could now be delayed up to two years.
A last minute amendment to the bill would allow researchers to take tissue from the infirm to create the animal/human hybrids, which would then be used for medical research.
David Jones, director of the Centre for Bioethics and Emerging Technologies at St Mary's University College in London, warned a person with Alzheimer's opposed to such experiments could find themselves being used once they loose the capacity to object.
"I think it is totally objectionable, and I really worry that this will create a backlash against medical research."
Even without the abortion measures, the discussion was heated.
Recalling Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's efforts to create "the ultimate soldier" by crossing men and apes, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries warned that scientists would try to create a "humanzee" -- a hybrid of a human and a chimpanzee:
"Of all the experimental possibilities debated in the course of this Bill, surely none is quite so utterly repulsive as the possibility of seeking to inseminate animals with human sperm."
The bill would also allow for so-called "saviour siblings" -- children born to provide stem cells for an ailing older brother or sister. The birth of one such boy in Spain recently was condemned by the Catholic Church there. Parents screen several embryos before a saviour sibling is born. Any embryos that can't help the older child are destroyed.